January 27, 2008

Pain In The Buttocks

From Newsvine: Nude Buttocks May Cost ABC $1.4 Million

Man, that is one pricey hooker.
WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $1.4 million fine against 52 ABC Television Network stations over a 2003 broadcast of cop drama NYPD Blue.

The fine is for a scene where a boy surprises a woman as she prepares to take a shower. The scene depicted "multiple, close-up views" of the woman's "nude buttocks" according to an agency order issued late Friday…

The agency said the show was indecent because "it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs — specifically an adult woman's buttocks."

The agency rejected the network's argument that "the buttocks are not a sexual organ."
Um, perhaps I am getting overly semantic here, but I'm going to have to side with ABC on this one: the buttocks are technically just the fleshy bits at the bottom of your back, and while they do surround something that could be considered a vital part of the sexual act (depending on your inclinations, obviously), it's kind of a stretch to call them, in and of themselves, a sexual organ. (This is getting really semantic, but can you even call the sphincter an "organ"? It's more of a foramen, I would say.)

Besides, even if we concede that the buttocks can be used as part of sexual relations, if we put the kibosh on broadcasting images of anything into which a penis can be put for sexual pleasure, we're going to have an awful lot of blank screens on our hands, don't you think? Those Oreck commercials are going to be right out, that's for sure.

Incidentally, in my quest for the definitive meaning of the word "buttocks", I consulted the OED, and their entry on the word is really quite delightful. Their standard definition sounds almost Biblical:
One of the two protuberances of the rump (of men and beasts)
But mostly I was amazed at the wealth of other meanings the word can have. It's a nautical term, a rare and obsolete neurological term borrowed from Galen ("buttocks of the brain"), a wrestling move (from which we also get the noun "buttocker", ie. one who performs a buttocking), and a term used in mining to describe a particular portion of the coal face. It's also used in a number of superbly whimsical compound words, such as:
buttock-ball, a ball attended by prostitutes; buttock-banqueting, harlotry; buttock-mail (Sc.), ludicrous term for a fine imposed for fornication.
These are all related to what the OED lists as the word's fifth meaning (in slang, natch): "prostitute" (though the OED gets a little more sesquipedalian about it, opting for the phrase "a common strumpet").

Strumpet, by the way, also has its own, charming entry. It's a noun, of course, meaning "a debauched and unchaste woman"; but did you know it is also a "quasi-adjective" referring to things that are strumpets (eg. "a strumpet princess"). Of course, if you'd like to be a little clearer, you can always go with the full adjective "strumpet-like", or even the adverb "strumpet-wise" (or simply "strumpetly", which can be both). You can also use it as a verb (though a largely obsolete one) meaning either to make someone a strumpet, call someone a strumpet, or (in "to strumpet it") to play the strumpet (which I assume has nothing to do with musical instruments, unless we're talking about rusty trombones).

Finally (this is definitely my favourite part), strumpet also features in a number of compound words that really strain the bounds of credulity:
Hence strumpethood, the condition of being a strumpet. strumpetier, a whore-monger. strumpetocracy jocular, government by strumpets
I think red light districts would be much jollier places if pimps started referring to themselves as "strumpetiers".

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